Children’s Tumor Foundation: Let Good Take Flight American Airlines Charity Day

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American Airlines Team © Courtesy of Children’s Tumor Foundation

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More than 100 data technologists at American Airlines (AA) will come together on May 30, 2024 for the second American Airlines Charity Day, a day designated by the IT and select business teams to give back to their communities, to support the Children’s Tumor Foundation. These dedicated experts have invested significant time into ‘hacking’ strategies and devising solutions to advance the CTF mission of ending NF. This year’s Charity Day is showcasing their work, including the advancement of the CTF data warehouse and creating tools to analyze donor data, identify information gaps, and create data visualizations. This will help CTF improve its constituent outreach and engagement through enriched information strategies.

The first AA Charity Day dedicated to the Children’s Tumor Foundation took place in November 2021. Under the American Airlines banner of “Let Good Take Flight,” the American Airlines team found their inspiration from colleague and fellow team member, Patricia Ptasznik whose daughter Amanda lived with NF. What began as an endeavor to harness individual strengths for the betterment of CTF quickly gained traction across AA’s diverse data teams, evolving into a dynamic event focused on enhancing comprehension and analysis of available data. Leveraging the skills that propel AA’s customer-centric success, team members ventured into the nonprofit sphere on behalf of CTF and NF patients, spreading their wings to apply their unique expertise.

CTF will benefit from the insights and expertise provided by the AA team, empowering the Foundation in its future planning and growth, while at the same time, the AA team is utilizing their collective brainpower and teamwork to address challenges and advance philanthropic efforts. Charity Day stands as a testament to the powerful collaboration between corporations and nonprofits in addressing significant challenges together.

To honor this enduring impact, the data warehouse developed through this initiative will be named “Amanda,” paying tribute to her resilience and courage, as well as to all NF heroes. The name symbolizes our unwavering commitment to supporting NF patients and advancing the Foundation’s mission.

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Patti © Courtesy of Children's Tumor Foundation

Extraordinary Spirit: Patricia Ptasznik

The Children’s Tumor Foundation proudly celebrates Patricia Ptasznik, also known as Patti, a loving NF mother and a leader in data management at American Airlines. Through her roles as both a passionate NF advocate and an accomplished IT professional, Patti exemplifies our mission to end NF with her unwavering dedication and resolve.

Patti’s journey is a testament to the impact one individual can have on a cause close to their heart while showcasing how team efforts can drive meaningful change. At American Airlines, she catalyzed a unique collaboration with the Children’s Tumor Foundation, emphasizing teamwork and problem-solving for a cause, aligned with their motto to “care for people on life’s journey.”

In 2021, American Airlines’ Charity Day assisted the Foundation with donor data management and analysis, leveraging the collective expertise of over 135 data technologists, while another group of experts worked on NF scientific data aimed at advancing NF research. Patti orchestrated the collective effort, uniting the company’s expertise and diverse talents to support the Foundation’s mission.

In 2024, the collaboration continues as the American Airlines team again embarks on Charity Day in support of CTF, this time focused on advancing a data warehouse and robust analytical tools to further support the Foundation’s objectives. Patti’s leadership extends beyond these initiatives, as a guiding force of CTF’s Data Advisory Board, together with other American Airlines data leaders she has recruited.

Beyond her instrumental role in American Airlines Charity Day, Patti’s involvement spans a myriad of initiatives, from leading Team Amanda at the Dallas Shine a Light NF Walk to championing NF awareness efforts.

Patti’s leadership in harnessing collective brainpower is bringing forth innovative solutions and strategies to grow the Foundation’s reach and effectiveness. Her passion inspires a chain reaction of generosity and compassion that continues to resonate.

In Patti, we find not just a volunteer, but a driving force—a beacon of hope whose extraordinary spirit uplifts and inspires us all. Amanda, her beloved daughter and eternal inspiration, infuses Patti’s journey with love and determination, enriching the lives of all those around her.

Amanda © Courtesy of Children's Tumor Foundation

Amanda as Patti’s Inspiration

Taken from her remarks upon accepting the Make NF Visible Corporate Partner Award at the 2023 NF Summit

“My daughter, Amanda, was born with NF1. She had an optic pathway glioma and faced learning challenges. When she was 17, neurofibroma tumors started growing inside of her, and within five years, she had extensive painful tumors throughout her entire body. She passed away in 2017 at the age of 22.”

“Losing a child is one of life’s most difficult trials a parent can go through. I prayed that God would take all of the pain and suffering that Amanda and our family experienced and asked God to help me bring good out of it. The Children’s Tumor Foundation was there for our family when we needed them most. I shared my daughter’s NF experiences and my background in IT, and we started slowly collaborating on possible ideas over the next several years.”

“I’ve worked in the American Airlines IT department for 34 years as a developer and manager. And over the past 16 years, I’ve led the enterprise data analytics and data warehouse team. We integrate extensive amounts of operational and customer data from across the company to analyze opportunities to improve our operations, our customer service, and increase revenue. Data is at the heart of every decision made at American Airlines. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Organizations that are data-driven will outperform those who don’t.”

“I worked with my AA upper management to allow team members to be able to have a Charity Day dedicated to CTF, and we were able to leverage our technical skills to analyze CTF data, identify information gaps, create data visualizations, and help CTF improve donor outreach and engagement through enriched information strategies.”

“CTF staff received insights and expertise that will serve the Foundation in its future planning and growth. CTF is focused on medical research, which is based on data to help find a cure for NF. My goal is to help CTF organize its data in a way that drives additional donations that fund medical research to end NF. I can’t change the past and bring my daughter back, but I can do everything in my power to leverage my knowledge, skills, and time to help bring a better outcome for the families still living with NF.”

Our thanks to Patti and the entire American Airlines team for their extraordinary spirit.

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